Networking is a key factor of being a successful freelancer.
Building and nurturing a network can lead to a steady stream of ideal clients, valuable collaborations, and increased opportunities. As a freelancer, you are essentially your own business, and effective networking can significantly improve your ability to earn.
Alice Paterson used to work as a fundraiser for a charity and networking was a critical aspect of her role. She is now a coach and wellbeing consultant therefore networking still plays an important part in supporting her business; the majority of her clients come via word-of-mouth.
Here are some tips from Alice to help you navigate the world of networking as a freelancer:
Define your niche and target audience
Before diving into networking, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your niche and target audience. Define what services you offer, who you want to serve, and the specific problems you
can solve for your clients. Having this clarity will make it easier to connect with the right people and communicate your value effectively.
Online presence matters
In today’s digital age, your online presence plays a vital role in networking. Create a professional website or portfolio showcasing your work, expertise, and contact information. Use platforms such
as LinkedIn, Twitter, and relevant industry-specific forums to connect with potential clients and like-minded professionals.
Events are excellent opportunities to network with potential clients and collaborators. Look for relevant events, workshops, and seminars in your niche and try to attend them regularly. Eventbrite
is a great source of events and you can subscribe to your favourite organisers so that you receive alerts when they arrange a new event. And of course don’t forget to check out TMP’s great calendar
of events with an interesting range of partners! Maybe consider setting up your own event. Engage in discussions and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new people, especially considering that they are likely to be there to expand their network too. When standing talking to someone, use open and welcoming body language to make it easy for new people to approach and join in (e.g. stand in a “V” formation with the other person so that there is a gap for someone new). The more often you attend events, the less daunting it is as there will be familiar faces. Look out for people standing on their own, they are likely to appreciate being approached and included. Meeting people face-to-face can leave a lasting impression and often leads to stronger professional relationships, however, don’t overlook online events where you can tap into networks outside your local area.
If you’re anxious about social situations then get others talking about themselves; “Have you attended these events before?”, “What is it you do?”, “What are you hoping to get out of today?” etc. Connect via LinkedIn (made easy using a QR code via their app) or exchange business cards or contact information in order to be able to stay in touch.
Leverage social media platforms
Social media can be a powerful tool for networking as a freelancer. LinkedIn, in particular, is a goldmine for professional connections. Build a strong LinkedIn profile, actively engage with posts and discussions, and join relevant groups to expand your network. Share valuable content related to your niche, demonstrate your expertise, and connect with potential clients and collaborators. Don’t underestimate the power of less professional platforms such as Facebook or Instagram where the audience are more likely to be people who know you well and want to support you in your endeavours.
Offer value before asking for it
Networking isn’t just about asking for favours or job opportunities. Instead, focus on offering value to others first. Provide helpful insights, share relevant content, make useful introductions, or refer potential clients to other freelancers if the fit isn’t right for you. This approach establishes goodwill and fosters a positive reputation.
Follow up and stay in touch
When you meet new contacts, follow up within a few days, reminding them where you met and write a personalised message to express your appreciation for the meeting and reinforce your
interest in potential collaboration. Staying in touch with your network is essential to keep those connections alive. Send periodic updates, share your latest work, or simply drop a friendly message to check in and suggest meeting for a coffee catch-up.
Seek out collaborative opportunities
Collaborating with other freelancers or professionals in your industry can be mutually beneficial. It allows you to combine skills, share resources, and potentially tap into each other’s networks. Look for opportunities where your expertise complements someone else’s, and explore how you can work together on a project or initiative.
Ask for referrals and testimonials
Happy clients can be one of your most valuable assets when it comes to networking. Don’t hesitate to ask satisfied clients for referrals or testimonials. Positive word-of-mouth can bring in new clients and further cement your reputation.
Be genuine and authentic
Authenticity is crucial in networking. Be yourself, and don’t try to be someone you’re not. People appreciate genuineness, and building trust is essential for establishing long-lasting professional relationships.
Be patient and persistent
Not every connection will lead to immediate results, but don’t get discouraged. Stay patient and persistent in nurturing your relationships. Opportunities may arise when you least expect them and it may take a while for the fruits of your labour to manifest.
In conclusion, networking is a fundamental skill for freelancers to master. By defining your niche, establishing a strong online presence, attending events, offering value to others, and being
persistent, you can build a robust network that propels your freelancing career to new heights. Remember, networking is not just about gaining new clients; it’s also about forming meaningful professional relationships that can lead to long-term success. Try to enjoy the ride and be interested in others.
Want to discover your true potential and find your zest for life? Reach out to Alice for a free, no-obligation discovery session where you can explore your goals together. To learn more about Alice’s coaching services, visit her website.